Willy looked ill at ease at the far end of the dark wooden bar at the Silver Dollar and kept looking at his watch. Minutes ticked by as slow as molasses. His nerves made him jumpy. Four minutes to nine, the twenty-seven-year-old put down the rest of his lukewarm beer in one gulp and took off into the night.
Heavy fog hung inches from the ground on the moonless night making it difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. “Shit!” he cried, barely missing a large raccoon crossing the road. He opened the window and shivered.
I should have never left her alone, he thought, biting hard on his lip. I should have been more of a man and insisted on waiting outside in case things turned ugly.
He imagined Peter screaming at her or worse yet, reacted violently at being exposed. His foot pressed harder on the gas pedal.
“Damn it!” He pounded his fist on the steering wheel. He would confront Peter. After all, Victoire agreed to marry him as soon as the divorce came through. She even hinted about starting a family.
He almost missed the turn off to the Prentice house. He hit the brakes, put the car in reverse and made a sharp left turn towards the jagged coast. When their parked cars became visible, Willy swerved to one side and immediately switched off the lights. He put on his parka and stepped into the dark.
The entire coast was socked in. Aside from the occasional distant foghorn, an eerie silence enveloped the night. Willy heard no voices, no screams. His eyes adjusted to the surrounding darkness, and he listened for a while longer before making his way around to the back.
Shadows leapt up when the winds blew and startled him. Willy nearly lost his footing on a bush and fell against the side of the house with a thud. “Shit!” He hunkered down for a few minutes before continuing. Sweat trickled down his back.
Suddenly, the thought of facing Prentice unnerved him. Not only was Peter one of the top men in the industry he was still Victoire’s husband. He was wealthy, very well connected and powerful, very powerful. Willy groaned but carried onward, grinding his teeth.
# # # #
A lonely hurricane lamp shone on the deck table like a warning beacon. Peter watched as Victoire suddenly got up and walked outside towards the light with the unearthly gait of a sleepwalker.
But Victoire was anything but asleep. Time was running out. She knew Willy would turn up soon and didn’t want him to stumble into any unfinished business. She had to get Peter onto the deck while he was in shock and still malleable.
“Victoire?” Peter’s voice grew closer. She hurried to the edge then turned around. She looked like a ghost against the moonless background. Waves slapped hard against the rocks below. Cypresses creaked and swayed like hunched giants heightening the surrealism.
“Peter we’re ruined,” she cried. “There’s nothing left.” She turned away from him and gripped onto the railing.
“Victoire, no, don’t say that,” he countered, taking her by the arm. She was shaking.
“If I’d been a better wife, if I’d paid more attention, you would have been happier,” she replied with sorrow. “I caused this, I must have-Oh God help us!”
Her young face looked so stricken, her tone so bittersweet, so wrenchingly convincing. Peter instantly made his decision. He was ruined, and there was no possible way out for him.
“Victoire, I caused this. Do you understand?” He grabbed her forcefully by the shoulders. Her eyes widened. “I’m to blame, no one else.”
She placed her cold palms against chest. “Oh, Peter I want to get through this awful nightmare, but how?” she pleaded. “Help me!”
The wild pounding of his heart became deafening, He gave her a quick last kiss, grabbed the railing and threw one leg over it. Victoire took a step back. Peter put the other leg over and said, “I didn’t kill the man, tell them. Do it for me!” The narrow edge was slippery. Peter looked down at the raging surf below frozen with terror. The cliff side glistened under the spotlights. He let go of one hand and was about to let go of the other when Willy came running towards them from the side of the house and screamed her name.
She spun around, startled. “Willy?!”
“Waites?” Peter cried out at the same time.
The face of the cliff appeared smoky under the glare of the lights.
Victoire spun back around to face Peter and caught the penny drop in his red-rimmed eyes. Before Willy ruined her perfect plan, she hurled herself towards Peter screaming hysterically at the top of her lungs. Peter not only jumped out of skin, he accidentally let go of the railing and dropped from sight.
His wife watched in morbid fascination as Peter’s body ricocheted off the side of the cliff and became impaled on a sharp boulder below.
Then she covered her eyes and shrieked, “Peter, no!!!”
Willy looked over the edge and saw waves wash over Prentice’s broken body. The tip of the sharp rock protruded from his bloody abdomen.